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A Defense Against Planetary Attack

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 11:46:19 -0500
Fwd Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 11:46:19 -0500
Subject: A Defense Against Planetary Attack




Source: Paul Gilster's Centauri Dreams - Raleigh,
        North Carolina, USA

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=974

January 7th, 2007


A Defense Against Planetary Attack

Normally the term 'planetary defense' conjures up images of an
incoming asteroid, spotting (let's hope) way out in the Solar
System. The defense mounted against pending disaster might
involve nudging the asteroid gently out of its current
trajectory so that it misses the Earth. Various scenarios come
to mind for managing this, but all involve getting to the
dangerous object in plenty of time so that technologies not so
different from what we have today will be effective at ending
the threat.

Planetary defense book

With that in mind, I did a double-take when I saw the cover of
An Introduction to Planetary Defense, by Travis Taylor, Bob
Boan, Charles Anding and Thomas Conley Powell. The book,
published by BrownWalker Press at the end of 2006, bears this
subtitle: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial
Invasion. A jeu d'espirit based on SF themes? Hardly. The
authors are familiar names whose work has resonance.

Taylor, for example, has worked for NASA and the Department of
Defense for sixteen years and has collaborated on interstellar
topics with Greg Matloff. Powell is senior scientist for BAE
Systems in Huntsville and is an expert on space trajectories,
attitude dynamics and orbital mechanics. I'm less familiar with
Boan and Anding, but each seems to have experience in space
systems. So when this group tackles extraterrestrial invasion,
they do it soberly, with a hard look at strategies, tactics, and
weapons that might be used if the longshot scenarios of some
science fiction authors - or even B-grade movie directors - ever
become reality.

You can find excerpts from the book at the publisher's website,
from which I've extracted the introduction and part of the first
chapter as I wait for my copy to arrive. Interestingly, the
authors take a hard look at the Drake Equation in that section,
and also ask how long any civilization could remain hidden from
a more advanced culture. We've discussed that question in these
pages before, in reference to Earth's everyday electromagnetic
radiation and whether radio and TV broadcasts from the past
seventy-five years would be detectible from nearby stars, with
the general consensus being that such a detection is highly
unlikely.

But what about other forms of detection? These writers doubt
that any civilization could remain hidden for long. Here's an
excerpt about just one reason, the advent of new imaging and
telescope technologies:


Recently in his book The Sun as a Gravitational Lens: Proposed
Space Missions, Claudio Maccone, a space scientist at Alenia
Aerospazio in Turin, Italy, suggests implementing the sun's
gravitational lensing effect (as predicted by Einstein's General
Theory of Relativity) in a telescope. In other words, the Sun
could be used as a lens producing an aperture the diameter of
the sun. Its focus is at about six hundred astronomical units
away. If the proper equipment were placed at the Solar focus,
extremely detailed images of extra-solar planetary surfaces
could be captured. Civilizations only moderately more advanced
than we are could quite possible implement such a telescope.
Therefore, even quiet civilizations could be seen through such a
telescope. Eventually, detection of such civilizations may not
depend on their directly communicating with us by sending
signals. The lght from their star boucning off of their alien
rooftops and then onward to our giant telescope may be enough.


Hence the conclusion: All intelligent civilizations will
eventually be detectable by more advanced cultures. That's an
interesting value to plug into the Drake Equation! Developing
the statistics on probable life elsewhere makes the book's point
- we have no real notion of how such civilizations might deal
with us, and should learn the lessons of history by way of
developing a strategy for dealing with unexpected arrivals.
Based on its first chapter, this book seems to be stuffed with
interesting notions. Between it and Michaud's Contact with Alien
Civilizations, we'll have plenty to read and discuss on
potential SETI outcomes.


[Thanks to Stuart Miller of http://uforeview.net/]




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